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April starts with a day of jokes and sees us through the first moments of spring. It's such an uplifting time of the year and the perfect moment for BooksfromScotland to share books that can inspire a belly laugh as well promote a healthy, happy connection to everyone and everything around us. So kick off your shoes and enjoy our recommendations of the best in new fiction as well as nature, childrens, humour and spiritual books.

When Donald O’ Connor sings ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ in Singin’ in the Rain, it’s difficult to disagree with his point of view. Novelist Bobbie Darbyshire certainly follows Donald’s instruction in her latest novel, The Posthhumous Adventures of Harry Whittaker, and speaks to BooksfromScotland about comedic writing.

 

The Posthumous Adventures of Harry Whittaker By Bobbie Darbyshire Published by Sandstone Press

 

Tell us about your new novel, The Posthumous Adventures of Harry Whittaker.

Many thanks for featuring it! Harry is a hugely famous actor – think Laurence Olivier crossed with Jack Nicholson. He’s adored by his public, but in personal life he’s an outrageous old egotist. Dying of a heart attack, he finds himself still in this world, stuck in a bizarre afterlife, while his very much nicer son Richard tries to escape a failing café, a dotty mother and the wrong girlfriend.

 

What was the inspiration behind the book?

The story I’d begun to develop explored the effect of a father’s mean-spirited will on his family, but it wasn’t firing my imagination. Feeling stuck and downcast, I complained to a friend: ‘The problem is that the most interesting character is dead…’ As the words left my mouth – ping! – the light came on in my head: Harry would still be around, observing how his will was received. He would have obstacles to overcome in the afterlife, a predicament that would limit him severely, bring him down a peg and teach him some lessons. I couldn’t wait to start writing.

 

What is it about the world of showbusiness that makes it ripe for comedic writing?

I found great comic potential in the gulf between an individual’s personality on stage and off. Not just Har...

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Polly Clark’s love for tigers started when she worked in Edinburgh Zoo. David Robinson is admiring of the ambition in Clark’s second novel, Tiger, and her own fascination with the inner life of these magnificent creatures.

 

Tiger By Polly Clark Published by Riverrun

 

Shere Khan. Tigger. Richard Parker. Tigers have always figured heavily in fiction, and writers have tried to frame their fearful symmetry for centuries, and certainly long before Polly Clark finished her first novel and started on her second.

Larchfield, her debut novel, told the story of Dora, a contemporary English poet, newly arrived in Helensburgh from Oxford, who overcomes her social isolation by throwing herself into studying WH Auden. It took its title from the name of the Helensburgh public school where Auden taught in the early 1930s, isolated by his homosexuality almost as much as ...

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